Music Chapel: Our Story
Inaugurated on July 12, 1939, the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel is named in honour of Queen Elisabeth of Belgium, co-founder of this centre for musical excellence. A violinist herself, she was a keen supporter of the arts, amongst other causes, and always eager to help young talent. Her love of music and her support of gifted musicians are honoured and carried on to this day by the continued patronage of the Belgian royal family, with Her Majesty Queen Paola serving as Honorary Chairman of the Music Chapel.
The Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel is the fruit of Ysaÿe’s reflection on transmission and of the formidable energy that Queen Elisabeth deployed during the interwar period to bring about a series of ambitious cultural projects in her adopted home country of Belgium. Headstrong and close to the artistic and intellectual milieux (she was as close to Albert Einstein as well as Pablo Casals), Queen Elisabeth helped to make Belgium an important centre for the arts in the late 1930s.
These two personalities had a clear vision and mission, which is still to be found at the heart of the Music Chapel’s philosophy and actions today. Ysaÿe opened Queen Elisabeth’s eyes and mind to the principle of music education through transmission, the impetus behind their co-founding of the Queen Elisabeth Music Foundation in 1931. Together, they envisioned an environment where highly gifted young musicians can grow and develop towards excellence, through unique, tailored exposure to the knowledge, technique and experience of seasoned masters.
Today Music Chapel has become… a centre of musical excellence where young artists in residence, selected from around the world, are in contact with, and benefit from the advice of leading artists, musical masters – not only through masterclasses, but also by sharing the stage together.
A modern addition enables Music Chapel to support 60 artists in residence—five times its previous capacity—as well as engage visitors and concertgoers in a new, 250-person performance hall. The tranquility of the environment remains unchanged, however, with the concert hall looking out upon the forest of Argenteuil and the architecture intended to blend with and reflect the natural surroundings.
With its rich history of vision, tradition and musical distinction, the Music Chapel is so much more than an educational center— it is truly an experience, for musicians and audiences alike. This experience isn’t possible without the quality and excellence of the Masters in Residence. It is their high standards and full dedication which makes it truly unforgettable, unique and so attractive for the next generation of musicians.